The Rockhampton Museum of Art (RMOA) 13 – 15 April 2023
From 13 to 15 April on the Easter school holidays, Flying Arts Alliance Inc (Flying Arts) alongside our partners at the Institute of Modern Art (IMA) travelled to Rockhampton to deliver The Visual Field, an arts industry insights program for teens aged 15 to 18. The program was rich and exciting, designed to explore career pathways for young people interested in creative pursuits and careers in the arts after school. Hosted by the Rockhampton Museum of Art (RMOA), their generous staff and new facilities allowed for a dynamic program that supported participants to feel comfortable and reach their full potential.
Over the three-day program, young people were given the opportunity to connect with arts professionals of all backgrounds and career stages as well as participate in exhibition tours, hands-on workshops and panel discussions. The young people were given real-world experience in engaging audiences on contemporary art. Over the course of the program, they each produced an exhibition review, with several interested participants having the opportunity to receive mentoring to home their writing for publication by the online arts magazine, Lemonade.
DAY 1 – Thursday 13 April
Standing in front of the culturally significant installation Wall Composition on Darumbal (2021) by D Harding, the program began with a moving Welcome to Country delivered by LeLarnie Hatfield, Cultural Coordinator for Darumbal People Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC. LeLarnie wished the young people well over the course of the program and asked Darumbal ancestors to look over the participants as they live and learn on Darumbal Country.
Shortly after, the participants delved into an orientation session, which included an overview of the program, housekeeping and introductions from Flying Arts, the IMA and RMOA.
After a brief ‘getting to know you’ activity, the participants embarked on an exhibition tour and ‘behind the scenes’ look of RMOA, facilitated by Curator, Emily Wakeling. The participants explored the exhibitions on display, including: From a Burdekin Studio: Works by Cutler Footway, Collection Focus: Dwelling, Pattern & Print: Easton Pearson Archive, Man of Letters: Derek Lamb and the Officina Athelstane and D Harding.
They then went on a behind-the-scenes look at the collection storage facilities, having a look through their art collection, which is regarded as one of the finest in regional Australia and of national significance. This was a particular highlight for the participants, as they were able to see firsthand a cross-section of interests and influences in the areas of modern and contemporary Australian art, First Nations art, works on paper, ceramics and photography, with special focus on Central Queensland art and artists.
After this exciting opportunity, the IMA and Flying Arts shared in an informative session the various ways that they engage audiences with contemporary art, an overview of exhibition review writing and steps for achieving in-depth exhibition/artwork analysis. From there, the participants ventured back into the gallery spaces and worked together to build the foundations of an exhibition review.
To conclude the first day, the participants heard firsthand from one of the artists on display through an online artist talk. Internationally acclaimed visual artist D Harding and RMOA’s First Nations Arts Officer, Melinda Mann virtually joined the group to discuss Wall Composition on Darumbal (2021).
Both D Harding and Melinda spoke to the sensitive collaboration that occurred between the artist and the Darumbal Traditional Owners throughout the artwork commissioning and creation process. Melinda reflected that the artwork was of significant relevance to the Darumbal community and fostered conversations about place, culture and community amongst Rockhampton residents and the region’s visitors.
D Harding and Melinda mentioned there is a wealth of possibilities in the region, with creative pursuits important for keeping local stories alive. Closing their discussion, Melinda advised participants to never underestimate the power of art. D Harding echoed this sentiment, stating that the young creatives should be brave enough to be creative and added that the participants should have compassion for themselves throughout the creative process.
DAY 2 – Friday 14 April 2023
On the second day, participants dove straight into an artist talk and demonstration with Derek Lamb, a local letterpress printer with work currently on display at RMOA. Together Flying Arts, IMA and the participants walked down to the Walter Reid Cultural Centre to experience a lively artist’s studio.
While visiting, Derek gave the students an overview of the history of the printing press, spanning it’s invention by Johannes Gutenberg and the Printing Revolution through to its current usage and the contemporary proliferation of media.
The young artists were shown a demonstration of letterpress printing techniques on an Alexandra Hand Press from 1887 and after the demonstration tried their hand at using a Vandercook SP15 letterpress. They each printed artworks with the Latin aphorism ‘Ars longa vita brevis’ which translates in English to ‘Skilfulness takes time and life is short’. Following this, the students looked through Derek’s artist books and asked questions regarding his practice and experience.
Upon returning to RMOA, the students continued writing their exhibition reviews, analysing artworks and the wider exhibitions, while evaluating the overall impact.
In the afternoon, the students came back together for a panel discussion on careers in the arts. The group was joined by:
– Brendon Tohill, Exhibitions and Collections Officer, RMOA
– Tessa McIntosh, Curatorial Assistant Permanent Collections and Exhibitions, RMOA
– Robert O’Connell, Assistant Curator, RMOA
– Emily Wakeling, Curator, RMOA
– Easton Dunne, Public Engagement Officer, RMOA
– Nadine Schmoll, Education Manager, IMA
– Madeline Brewer, Program Team Lead, Flying Arts
During the session, the staff spoke to their current role as well as their experience in the arts. They then stepped participants through their education and experience, outlining tips and advice for entering the industry.
DAY 3 – Saturday 15 April
On the final day of the program, participants resolved their exhibition review drafts. These draft documents were then printed to showcase to parents and carers at the end of the day.
The students following the program had the opportunity to use the final days of their school holidays to tidy up their drafts and make revisions, before sending the documents to the Institute of Modern Art for feedback and selection by Dr Louise R Mayhew at Lemonade for online publication. The published exhibition reviews can now be viewed here
For their final session, the students were joined by local artist Niloufar Lovegrove, who stepped them through a hands-on printmaking workshop. The participants created unique designs which they then cut into lino plates. These plates were inked and hand printed onto fabric bandannas, which the students could take home.
It was at this time that parents and carers joined the group of young creatives, partaking in a showcase of work and certificate presentation ceremony. The students had artwork and writing displayed throughout the room and spoke to their experience of the three-day intensive program before taking their family, friends and carers on ‘mini-tours’ of the RMOA exhibitions.
Overall The Visual Field was a highly successful and enriching program. The students came away inspired and enthusiastic about entering the arts industry, but also formed relationships with like-minded peers living locally, but also in the nearby towns of Biloela and Gracemere. It was wonderful to connect the participants with the staff, exhibitions and facilitates of the new RMOA to encourage the growth of local connections.
Flying Arts is grateful to the staff of IMA and RMOA for their care and support throughout the program. We are also appreciative of the time and commitment contributed by LeLarnie Hatfield, D Harding, Derek Lamb and Niloufar Lovegrove.
Thanks also go to Hummingbird Café for catering the event and Junwoo Jo for their photography.
The experience was covered by local media CQ Today. Read their coverage here.